03 August 2009

Wings Over Iraq: Blogging and Senior Military Leaders

Starbuck, over at Wings over Iraq, posted some interesting excerpts about the role of blogging in the military. Particularly, the role that senior leaders see for it. I won't rehash it here (he's got several links if you want to read even more on it.)

Suffice it to say that this "new media" buzz is much more than just buzz anymore in the military. It is true discussion about the pros and cons of it and the opinions still widely vary (primarily for the reasons discussed elsewhere in this blog.) I expect that the discussion will continue for some time and we won't find true consensus any time soon. In the meantime, I still think this is one great outlet for the stories to be told and for folks to be able to read about what life is like from a Soldiers perspective.


  1. Dear MAJ Jakob Bruhl:

    My name is Patrick Thomas, and I am a doctoral student in the Department of English at Kent State University. As part of my dissertation research, I am conducting a survey of military bloggers about their blogging practices—how and why they blog, and their perceptions of their blogs’ audiences.

    I am contacting you because your blog is featured on several blogroll lists within the milblog online community. While I am not affiliated with the military, my research aims to extend the work of milbloggers by looking at how military blogs function as alternative news sources about the War on Terror. Particularly, I am interested in what military blogs add to a growing body of research on the importance of social media (like blogs) in people’s everyday lives. To do so, I write to ask for your participation in this research through the completion of a survey. I also write to ask your permission to access your blog for the purpose of analyzing its content and features. This would require me to read posts on your blog already published, as well as any reader comments.

    As the consent statement below details, this dissertation project has been approved by Kent State University’s Division of Research and Graduate Studies. Should you choose to participate, any information you provide would be kept confidential and your biographical information would be kept anonymous through the use of pseudonyms. In no way would your participation in this project implicate your work in the military. The data I would collect is used solely for my own research.

    Should you agree to participate, please follow this link to complete my online survey:

    After completing the survey, if you know of any other bloggers who might be willing to participate in this survey, please forward the email consent statement and the survey link to them.

    If you have any questions about this research, please contact me directly at pthomas4@kent.edu.

    I thank you in advance for your time and consideration of this research.

    Patrick Thomas
    Doctoral Candidate & Teaching Fellow
    Department of English
    Kent State University, Kent, OH

    Consent Statement: I want to do research on military weblogs. I want to do this because I am interested in how social media, like weblogs, change how people in the military write as part of their daily
    lives. Because you are a soldier who operates and maintains a weblog, I would like you to take part in this project.
    If you decide to do this, you will be asked to complete the survey below. All survey responses will be anonymous and biographical information will be kept confidential through the use of
    pseudonyms. There are no risks to participating in this survey other than those encountered in everyday life. If you take part in this project you will add to a growing body of knowledge about how and why people use social media. Taking part in this project is entirely up to you, and no one will hold it against you if you decide not to do it. If you take part, you may stop at any time.
    If you want to know more about this research project, please call me (Tel. 330.672.0636) or contact Dr. Pamela Takayoshi, project adviser (Tel. 330.672.1777). The project has been approved by Kent State University. If you have questions about Kent State University's rules for research, please call Dr. John West, Vice President of Research, Division of Research and Graduate Studies (Tel. 330.672.2704).
    Your completion of this survey implies your consent to participate.

    Follow this link to complete the survey: http://stellarsurvey.com/s.aspx?u=C9AFF3DB-E8B5-4ADF-A12D-14759DF095DA&

    Thank you in advance for your time and consideration of this research project.

    Patrick Thomas

  2. Hi Major Bruhl,
    howz yer'hammer hangin?
    My query today is not too far off point.
    I would like to bring you up to date on that little Internet Fraud problem at the Corps of Engineers in New Orleans that brought us together a while back.
    It has become, to quote Chef Emril: "Kicked Up A Notch", to wit: "US Senator Mary Landrieu demands probe of Corps workers’ attacks on critics"
    My question to you and your PA folks is this:
    How far do you think We The People will get with the DOD Inspector General?
    It turns out that these vicious attacks weren't just a couple of isolated operatives who may have read your blog here, but a coordinated, well timed with articles, operation of over 700 comments (in just one 6 week time, though now estimated in the 1000s over a 3 year period).
    That averages out to about 25/8-hr day, all coming from the Corps HQ on Leake Street in New Orleans.
    Again I have to ask: Do you know any of these guys? Have you worked with any of them in Iraq? Who are these people, Maj Bruhl?
    Here is a link to today's Times-Picayune (site of the crimes) to bring you further up to speed.
    Americans are getting increasingly worried that You Folks are trying to invade our internets and push propaganda. That sounds simplistic, but it appears in the latest news that y'all push Commander Communications on social media Over that of the enlisted ranks.
    Looks that way to me. The soldiers are much more restricted in their speech than their commanders. That is just fine on the battle field, but when y'all try to enter our public commons with "Information", the rules change a bit in a Democracy. You will be judged in the same Court of Public Opinion as any other cheesy Public Relations Firm.

    So, I just wanted to ask you about this ongoing scandal of Computer Fraud in the US Army, this time at the Corps of Engineers.
    Y'all had better address this for your own good, the efficacy of your hard work may depend on it.
    As long as my comment is, I spare you much of the gorier details as I have been following this issue.

    Thank you in advance,
    for your consideration
    I remain,
    Editilla~New Orleans Ladder

  3. My apologies. I got so caugt-up I forgot...
    Here is the link to that Times-Picayune article today: http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/08/complaints_about_corps_of_engi.html#preview

    Thank you again,
    Editilla~New Orleans Ladder

  4. Come on Major.
    Please don't try to punk your readers again by not responding.
    I have soldiers and combat journalists waiting on you to get your lazy butt in gear and do your job, what we pay you for, before they (not me) hand your name over to Gordon Heddell the DOD Inspector General who has been asked to investigate this by our US Senator Mary Landrieu.

    People are watching you Major so can you had better get your head out of your vacation and get on the stick.

    Where you folks get this notion that you can ignore the American People --where you operate on American soil-- and still keep your pay rank is beyond me.

  5. Once again, “Soldiers in the Blogosphere” began as part of an individual research project into how the Army can make use of new media. That project is now complete (you can read about that elsewhere on the blog). As such, maintaining this blog has never been "my job", and it’s certainly not now. Since this isn‘t my job, this blog is obviously not what I “get paid for.”

    I used the original story that I’d read about this situation (thanks for the update, Editilla) as a way to discuss some ideas. At that time (and still) I did not pass judgment, I did not condone actions, I simply used the story as an example in an ongoing discussion.

    It seems to me that you are now getting the attention you believe the situation deserves. Since an investigation will be conducted, you should get some answers to the questions you’ve been asking. And answers from an organization designed to investigate allegations, rather than answers from some random Major that you found here.

    Not sure what role you'd like to think I play here, but I'll go ahead and address your questions, Editilla, what with the soldiers and combat journalists anxiously awaiting my profound responses:

    "Do you know any of these guys?” I doubt it. As I mentioned before, while I am a Corps of Engineers officer, I’ve only served in combat units, not Corps offices.
    “Have your worked with them in Iraq?” I doubt it (see previous answer)
    “Who are these people, Maj Bruhl?" I have no idea (see previous answers)
    "How far do you think We The People will get with the DOD inspector general?" I'm not sure, but you can give them the opportunity to investigate the charges - since that's their job. Will you get the answer you're looking for? Wait and see. Can you prejudge and assume that they're part of some grand conspiracy? Go right ahead.

    Sorry for the sarcasm, but it’s clear that you do not understand our organization. Your questions will be best directed to folks in the New Orleans Corps of Engineers office and/or the inspector general. You may not get the answers you’d like to get, but you’ll get better answers from them than you will from me … for all the reasons cited above and before.